If a person dies in New York, their pets are considered a part of their estate and are treated like property. If the will provides for who takes the pet, that person does. If that person does not want the pet, the person may give it away to someone else. If there is more then one close relative, the family will decide who takes the pet. Usually the decision is easy to make. If no one wants the pet, it is taken to the shelter. For those reasons, people usually agree litigation is rare in such cases.
Making plans for the care and provision of your pets if they survive you is just as important as deciding who you want to leave your assets to after you pass away. Cats and dogs are considered our family members and people and their pets become extremely attached to one another. Pets are comforting to elderly people who live alone and make wonderful companions. So the last thing a pet owner wants is for their pet to be neglected after their death or even worse have to go to a shelter or end up being euthanized because no one adopted them. It is much harder for older pets to get adopted in they are left in a shelter. Also, today many shelters are overcrowded and may not even be able to take your pet or find it a home. Above all, preparing ahead of time and finding someone to care for your furry friends will make you feel better and it will extend your pets life.
Deciding Who Will Care for the Pet
It’s a good idea to discuss ahead a time with your family or friends who is most able to care for your pet physically, financially and emotionally. You may want to also make financial arrangements leaving a certain sum of money to the person you choose to make it easier for them to care for your pet. Once you have make a decision, and the person you choose is agreeable, then you can formally add a provision to your will or trust and also leave instructions in your house or your wallet who to notify in case of your incapacity or death so that the person can come and get your pet.
There should also be detailed instructions in a file somewhere that can be found easily by the pet’s new owner and caretaker providing information about your pet’s specific habits, any mediations they take, health records, type of food they like and other information that you think is important, such as their favorite toy. This information will make the transition for your cat or dog less stressful. You may want to designate a backup person to care for your pet or update your will periodically in case the person you have chosen is no longer able to take on the responsibility or they have passed away before you.
By planning ahead there will be no surprises for your family or friends and your pet won’t be neglected or left to die in your home alone. Pets will be much happier having someone come and take care of them right away to help them get through the loss and separation of their loving owner. Even your bird needs a caretaker. Your family will appreciate that you took the time to make the arrangements as well so that they can grieve your death without having to worry about finding a home for your pet.
A New York probate and estate attorney can prepare a will and trust making sure that there is a provision that deals with the care and well-being of your pet and any financial arrangements that you want to make relating to the pet’s care. A New York probate and estate attorney also represents estates, executors, beneficiaries, heirs and other interested parties to an estate. If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney about the future of your pet, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.